Federico GarcŪa Lorca

 

The House of Bernarda Alba

 

(La casa de Bernarda Alba)

 

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1936

 

A drama of women in the villages of Spain

 

Act II

 

A. S. Kline © 2007 All Rights Reserved

This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. Permission to perform this version of the play, on stage or film, by amateur or professional companies, and for commercial purposes, should be requested from the translator,

mailto:tonykline@yahoo.com.

 

(The bright white interior of Bernardaís house. The doors on the left lead to the bedrooms. Bernardaís daughters are seated on low chairs, sewing. Magdalena embroiders. La Poncia is with them.)

 

ANGUSTIAS: Iíve finished cutting the third sheet.

 

MARTIRIO: Itís for Amelia.

 

MAGDALENA: Angustias, shall I do Pepeís initials as well?

 

ANGUSTIAS: (Drily) No.

 

MAGDALENA: (Loudly) Adela, are you coming?

 

AMELIA: Sheís lying down.

 

LA PONCIA: Sheís got something. Sheís restless, quivering, frightened, as if she had a lizard between her breasts.

 

MARTIRIO: Sheís got nothing more than what we all have.

 

MAGDALENA: All except Angustias.

 

ANGUSTIAS: Iím fine, and anyone who doesnít like it can go to the devil.

 

MAGDALENA: Well, one has to say the best things about you have always been your figure and your sensitivity.

 

ANGUSTIAS: Fortunately, Iíll soon be free of this hell.

 

MAGDALENA: Perhapsí you wonít be!

 

MARTIRIO: Letís change the subject!

 

ANGUSTIAS: And, besides, better an ounce of gold in oneís coffer than a pair of dark eyes in oneís head!

 

MAGDALENA: In one ear and out the other.

 

AMELIA: (To La Poncia) Open the door to the courtyard, and see if we can have a little fresh air in here.

 

(La Poncia does so.)

 

MARTIRIO: All last night I couldnít sleep with the heat.

 

AMELIA: Nor I!

 

MARTIRIO: I got out of bed to cool myself. There was a black storm cloud and even a few drops of rain.

 

LA PONCIA: It was one in the morning, and the earth was still fiery. I got out of bed too. Angustias was at the window with Pepe.

 

MAGDALENA: (Ironically) Was it as late as that? What time did he leave?

 

ANGUSTIAS: Magdalena, why ask since you saw him?

 

AMELIA: He left at about half past one.

 

ANGUSTIAS: Yes. How do you know that?

 

AMELIA: I heard his cough, and the hooves of his mare.

 

LA PONCIA: But I heard him leaving at four!

 

ANGUSTIAS: Then it wasnít him!

 

LA PONCIA: Iím sure it was!

 

AMELIA: It seemed to me tooÖ

 

MAGDALENA: How odd!

 

(Pause.)

 

LA PONCIA: Listen, Angustias, what did he say to you the first time he came to your window?

 

ANGUSTIAS: Nothing. What would he say? Trivial things.

 

MARTIRIO: Whatís truly odd is that two people who donít know each other should suddenly meet at an open window and become engaged.

 

ANGUSTIAS: I donít find it astonishing.

 

AMELIA: It would make me feel strange.

 

ANGUSTIAS: No it wouldnít, because when a man comes to your window he already knows from the coming and going, from the give and take, that the answer can only be yes.

 

MARTIRIO: Fine, but he still has to ask.

 

ANGUSTIAS: Of course!

 

AMELIA: (Curious) So, what did he say?

 

ANGUSTIAS: Well, nothing much. ĎYou know Iím after you, that I need a good woman, a modest one, and that itís you if youíll agree.í

 

AMELIA: Things like that embarrass me!

 

ANGUSTIAS: Me too, but you have to suffer them!

 

LA PONCIA: And did he say anything else?

 

ANGUSTIAS: Yes, he never stopped talking.

 

MARTIRIO: And you?

 

ANGUSTIAS: I couldnít speak. My heart almost leapt out of my mouth. It was the first time Iíd been alone at night with a man.

 

MAGDALENA: And such a handsome man.

 

ANGUSTIAS: His figureís not bad.

 

LA PONCIA: Thatís how it is between people who have a little experience, who know how to speak and wave their hands aboutÖThe first time my husband Evaristo el ColorŪn came to my windowÖha, ha, ha!

 

AMELIA: What happened?

 

LA PONCIA: It was quite dark. I saw him there and as he approached he said: ĎGood evening.í ĎGood evening,í I said in reply, and then we were silent for half an hour or more. Sweat bathed my whole body. Then Evaristo came closer, closer, as if he wanted to squeeze through the bars, and said in a whisper, ĎCome here, let me feel you!í

 

(They all laugh. Amelia rises, runs to the door, and peers out.)

 

AMELIA: Ay! I thought mother was coming.

 

MAGDALENA: Then weíd have been for it! (They continue laughing.)

 

AMELIA: ShushÖsheíll hear us!

 

LA PONCIA: Afterwards he behaved very well. Instead of chasing after other things he bred linnets till the day of his death. Itís good for you single women to know that a fortnight after the wedding a man forgoes bed for the table, and later on the table for the tavern. And the woman who canít accept it will waste away, crying in a corner.

 

AMELIA: You accepted it.

 

LA PONCIA: I could handle him!

 

MARTIRIO: Is it true you struck him on occasions?

 

LA PONCIA: Yes, and nearly blinded him.

 

MAGDALENA: Thatís how all women should behave!

 

LA PONCIA: Iím of your motherís school. One day he said something to me, who knows what, and I slaughtered all his linnets with the rolling pin. (They laugh.)

 

MAGDALENA: Adela, child, the things youíre missing.

 

AMELIA: Adela. (Pause.)

 

MAGDALENA: Iíll go and find her! (She exits.)

 

LA PONCIA: The child is ill!

 

MARTIRIO: Of course, she barely sleeps!

 

LA PONCIA: What does she do instead?

 

MARTIRIO: How do I know what she does!

 

LA PONCIA: You know better than I, you only have a wall between you.

 

ANGUSTIAS: Envy is eating her.

 

AMELIA: Donít exaggerate things.

 

ANGUSTIAS: I can see it in her eyes. Sheís beginning to look like a madwoman.

 

MARTIRIO: Donít talk about madness. This is the one place where such words should not be spoken.

 

(Magdalena enters with Adela.)

 

MAGDALENA: You werenít asleep, then?

 

ADELA: I felt unwell.

 

MARTIRIO: (Pointedly) Didnít you sleep well last night?

 

ADELA: Yes.

 

MARTIRIO: Then?

 

ADELA: (Angrily) Leave me alone! Sleeping or waking, itís nobodyís affair but mine! Iíll do as I want with my own body!

 

MARTIRIO: Iím merely concerned for you!

 

ADELA: Concerned, or inquisitive. Werenít you sewing just now? Well carry on. I wish I were invisible, so as to walk through these rooms without you forever asking where Iím going!

 

SERVANT: (Entering) Bernarda is asking for you. The man with the lace is here.

 

(They exit, and as they do so Martirio looks fixedly at Adela.)

 

ADELA: Stop staring at me! If you want you can have my eyes, that are hardly used, and my shoulders to bear that hump you carry, but turn your head away when I pass.

 

(Martirio exits.)

 

LA PONCIA: Adela, sheís your sister, and the one that loves you most!

 

ADELA: She follows me everywhere. She even looks into my room to see if Iím asleep. She doesnít let me breathe. And always itís: ĎWhat a shame about that pretty face! What a shame about that body, that no one will ever see!í Itís not so! My body will be for whomever I want!

 

LA PONCIA: (Pointedly in a low voice) For Pepe el Romano, is that it?

 

ADELA: (Startled) What do you mean?

 

LA PONCIA: What I say, Adela!

 

ADELA: Be silent!

 

LA PONCIA: (Loudly) Did you think I hadnít noticed?

 

ADELA: Lower your voice!

 

LA PONCIA: Suppress such thoughts!

 

ADELA: What do you know about it?

 

LA PONCIA: Old women can see through walls. Where do you go at night when you get up?

 

ADELA: You should have your eyes put out!

 

LA PONCIA: My hands are as full of eyes as my head when it comes to this business. For all my thinking about it I donít known what youíre up to. Why else were you standing there half-naked at the window with the light on when Pepe was here the second time he came to talk with your sister?

 

ADELA: Thatís not true!

 

LA PONCIA: Donít be such a child! Let your sister be, and if itís Pepe el Romano you want, reconcile yourself. (Adela weeps.) Besides, who says you canít marry him? Your sister Angustias is not well. She wonít survive her first child. Sheís narrow-waisted and old, and from my experience Iíd say sheíll die. Then Pepe will do what all the widowers here do: heíll marry the youngest and prettiest, and thatís you. Cling to that hope and forget him for now. Do what you like, but donít act against the law of God.

 

ADELA: Be silent!

 

LA PONCIA: I wonít be silent!

 

ADELA: Mind your own business, you nosy traitor!

 

LA PONCIA: I shall be your shadow!

 

ADELA: Instead of cleaning the house and praying for the dead when you go to bed, you go around like an old sow poking around in men and womenís business, so you can slobber over it.

 

LA PONCIA: I keep watch, so that people wonít spit when they pass this door!

 

ADELA: What vast affection you suddenly feel for my sister!

 

LA PONCIA: Iíve no loyalty to any of you, but I want to live in a decent house. I donít want my old age to be tarnished.

 

ADELA: Your advice is useless. Itís too late. Iíd not just ignore you, but also my mother, in order to quench this fire that licks me from head to foot. What can you say of me? That I lock myself in my room and wonít open the door? That I donít sleep? Iím cleverer than you. See if you can catch this hare in your hands.

 

LA PONCIA: Donít defy me, Adela, donít defy me! Because I can shout out loud, light all the lamps, and set the bells ringing.

 

ADELA: Bring four thousand yellow flares, and set them up on the walls of the stable-yard. No one can escape the fact that what is to happen will happen.

 

LA PONCIA: You want the man as much as that!

 

ADELA: Yes, as much as that! Gazing into his eyes I feel as if Iím slowly drinking his blood.

 

LA PONCIA: I wonít listen to you.

 

ADELA: Youíll listen! I was afraid of you. But now Iím stronger than you!

 

(Angustias enters.)

 

ANGUSTIAS: Forever arguing!

 

LA PONCIA: Of course. In all this heat she insists I go and fetch her something from the store.

 

ANGUSTIAS: Did you buy that bottle of scent for me?

 

LA PONCIA: The dearest one: and the powder. Iíve put them on the table in your room.

 

(Angustias exits.)

 

ADELA: Not a word!

 

LA PONCIA: Weíll see about that!

 

(Martirio, Amelia and Magdalena enter.)

 

MAGDALENA: (To Adela) Have you seen the lace?

 

AMELIA: The lace for Angustiasí wedding sheets is beautiful.

 

ADELA: (To Martirio, who is holding some lace) And that?

 

MARTIRIO: Itís for me. For a petticoat.

 

ADELA: (Sarcastically) One has to have a sense of humour!

 

MARTIRIO: (Pointedly) For my own eyes. I donít need to show off to anyone.

 

LA PONCIA: No one sees you in your petticoat.

 

MARTIRIO: (Pointedly looking at Adela) Sometimes they do! But I adore underwear. If I were rich Iíd have it of finest linen. Itís one of the few pleasures left to me.

 

LA PONCIA: This lace is fine for a babyís bonnet or for a christening gown. I could never dress mine in it. Letís see if Angustias can hers. If she starts having children youíll be sewing day and night.

 

MAGDALENA: Iíve no intention of sewing a stitch.

 

AMELIA: Much less look after someone elseís children. Look at the neighbours down the street, martyrs to four little idiots.

 

LA PONCIA: Theyíre better off than you are. At least they have a laugh and you can hear them fighting!

 

MARTIRIO: Then go and serve them.

 

LA PONCIA: No. Iíve been sent to serve in this convent!

 

(Distant bells are heard, as if through several walls.)

 

MAGDALENA: Itís the men going back to work.

 

LA PONCIA: It struck three a moment ago.

 

MARTIRIO: In this heat!

 

ADELA: (Sitting down) Oh, if I could only be out in the fields too!

 

MAGDALENA: (Sitting down) Each class to its own!

 

MARTIRIO: (Sitting down) Thatís so!

 

AMELIA: (Sitting down) Ay!

 

LA PONCIA: Thereís nothing like being in the fields at this time of year. Yesterday morning the harvesters arrived. Forty or fifty strapping men.

 

MAGDALENA: Where have they come from this year?

 

LA PONCIA: From a long way off. Theyíre from the mountains. A happy crowd! Like sun-scorched trees! Shouting and throwing stones! Last night a woman with a sequined dress arrived in the village and danced to an accordion, and fifteen of the men hired her and took her off to the olive grove. I watched them from a distance. The one who organised the hiring was a young man with green eyes, lean as a sheaf of wheat.

 

AMELIA: Is that a fact?

 

ADELA: Well, itís possible!

 

LA PONCIA: Years ago one of these women came here and I gave her money myself so my eldest could go with her. Men must do these things!

 

ADELA: Everything is forgiven them.

 

AMELIA: To be born a woman is the great crime.

 

MAGDALENA: Not even our eyes are our own.

 

(The sound of singing is heard in the distance. It draws nearer.)

 

LA PONCIA: Thatís them. They have some fine songs.

 

AMELIA: Theyíre off to the reaping, now.

 

CHORUS: ††††††††††††††† The reapers are leaving,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† theyíre off to the reaping,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and with them the hearts

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† of all the girls watching.

 

(Tambourines, and carraŮacas Ė traditional instruments, small wooden or metal plates scraped with sticks Ė are heard. Pause. All the women listen, in a silence pierced by sunlight.)

AMELIA: The heat doesnít bother them.

 

MARTIRIO: They reap amidst the fiery rays.

 

ADELA: Iíd like to be a reaper so I could come and go at will. Then Iíd be able to forget whatís gnawing at us.

 

MARTIRIA: What is it you need to forget?

 

ADELA: Each of us has something.

 

MARTIRIO: (With feeling) Each of us!

 

LA PONCIA: Hush! Hush!

 

CHORUS: (Far off)††

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† You girls there from the village

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† open your doors and windows;

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the reaper wants your roses

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to brighten his sombrero.

 

LA PONCIA: What a song!

 

MARTIRIO: (Nostalgically)

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† You girls there from the village

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† open your doors and windowsÖ

 

ADELA: (Passionately)

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Öthe reaper wants your roses

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to brighten his sombrero.

 

(The sound of the singing grows fainter.)

 

LA PONCIA: Theyíre turning the corner now.

 

ADELA: Letís go and watch them from the window of my room.

 

LA PONCIA: Take care not to open it too wide, because theyíre up to shoving at it to see whoís looking at them.

 

(The three of them leave. Martirio remains seated on the low chair with her head in her hands.)

 

AMELIA: (Approaching) What is it?

 

MARTIRIO: The heat is making me ill.

 

AMELIA: No more than that?

 

MARTIRIO: I wish it was November, with days of rain and frost; anything but this interminable summer.

 

AMELIA: It will pass and return again.

 

MARTIRIO: Of course! (Pause) What time did you go to sleep last night?

 

AMELIA: I donít know. I sleep like a log. Why?

 

MARTIRIO: Nothing, only I thought I heard someone in the stable yard.

 

AMELIA: You did?

 

MARTIRIO: Very late.

 

AMELIA: And you werenít scared?

 

MARTIRIO: No. Iíve heard it on other nights.

 

AMELIA: We should be on guard. Might it have been the farmhands?

 

MARTIRIO: The farmhands arenít here till six.

 

AMELIA: Perhaps a young mule that needs breaking in.

 

MARTIRIO: (In a low voice, full of hidden meaning) Ah, yes! A young mule, one that needs breaking in.

 

AMELIA: We should warn the others.

 

MARTIRIO: No! No, say nothing. Itís probably my imagination.

AMELIA: Perhaps.

 

(Pause. Amelia starts to leave.)

 

MARTIRIO: Amelia.

 

AMELIA: (In the doorway) What is it?

 

(Pause)

 

MARTIRIO: Nothing.

 

(Pause)

 

AMELIA: Why did you call to me?

 

(Pause)

 

MARTIRIO: It slipped out. It was unintentional.

 

(Pause)

 

AMELIA: Go and lie down for a while.

 

ANGUSTIAS: (Entering angrily in a way which creates a sharp contrast with the previous pauses.) Where is the photograph of Pepe that was under my pillow? Which of you has it?

 

MARTIRIO: Neither of us.

 

AMELIA: Itís not as if Pepe was a silver Saint Bartholomew.

 

(La Poncia, Magdalena and Adela enter.)

 

ANGUSTIAS: Where is the photo?

 

ADELA: What photo?

 

ANGUSTIAS: One of you has hidden it.

 

MAGDALENA: How dare you say that to us?

 

ANGUSTIAS: It was in my room and now itís not.

 

MARTIRIO: Maybe it slipped out to the stable yard in the night? Pepe likes to stroll in the moonlight.

 

ANGUSTIAS: Donít waste your wit on me! When he comes Iíll tell him.

 

LA PONCIA: No, donít do that! It will turn up! (Looking at Adela)

 

ANGUSTIAS: I want to know which one of you has it!

 

ADELA: (Looking at Martirio) Someone does! But not me!

 

MARTIRIO: (Pointedly) Naturally!

 

BERNARDA: (Entering leaning on her stick) Whatís this noise in my house amidst all this stifling silence? The neighbours must have their ears glued to the walls.

 

ANGUSTIAS: Theyíve stolen my fiancťís photograph.

 

BERNARDA: (Fiercely) Who has? Who?

 

ANGUSTIAS: They have!

 

BERNARDA: Which of you was it? (Silence) Answer me. (Silence. To La Poncia) Search their rooms, and their beds. This is what comes of not keeping you all on a tighter leash. But Iíll haunt your dreams! (To Angustias.) Are you sure?

 

ANGUSTIAS: Yes.

 

BERNARDA: Youíve searched for it properly?

 

ANGUSTIAS: Yes, Mother.

 

(They are all standing. An awkward silence ensues.)

 

BERNARDA: At my time of life, youíd make me drink the bitterest venom a mother has to swallow. (To La Poncia, entering) You found it?

 

LA PONCIA: Here it is.

 

BERNARDA: Where did you find it?

 

LA PONCIA: It wasÖ

 

BERNARDA: Donít be afraid to say.

 

LA PONCIA: (Surprised) Between the sheets of Martirioís bed.

 

BERNARDA: (To Martirio) Is that true?

 

MARTIRIO: Itís true.

 

BERNARDA: (Advancing and striking her with her stick) May you be cut to pieces, you good-for-nothing! You sower of discord!

 

MARTIRIO: (Angrily) Donít you hit me, Mother!

 

BERNARDA: As much as I want!

 

MARTIRIO: If I let you! Do you hear? Get away from me!

 

LA PONCIA: Show your mother some respect.

 

ANGUSTIAS: (Restraining Bernarda) Leave her alone. Please!

 

BERNARDA: Not a tear in her eyes.

 

MARTIRIO: Iíll not cry just to please you.

 

BERNARDA: Why did you take the photo?

 

MARTIRIO: Canít I even play a joke on my sister? Why else would I want it?

 

ADELA: (Jealously) This was no joke: youíve never liked jokes. It was something else in you seeking expression. Out with it now.

 

MARTIRIO: Be quiet, and donít make me talk, because if I do the walls will close in from shame!

 

ADELA: An evil tongue never stops inventing things!

 

BERNARDA: Adela!

 

MAGDALENA: Youíre both mad.

 

AMELIA: And thinking evil thoughts about us.

 

MARTIRIO: Others do worse things than that.

 

ADELA: Until they strip them naked and throw them in the river.

 

BERNARDA: Wicked girl!

 

ANGUSTIAS: Itís not my fault that Pepe el Romana fell for me.

 

ADELA: For your money!

 

ANGUSTIAS: Mother!

 

BERNARDA: Silence!

 

MARTIRIO: For your fields, and your orchards.

 

MAGDALENA: Thatís right!

 

BERNARDA: Silence, I said! I knew the storm was coming, but I didnít expect it so soon. Ay! What a shower of stones rains down on my heart! But Iím not an old woman yet and Iíve halters for all five of you and this house that my father built so that not even the weeds will know my desolation. Get out of here! (They leave. Bernarda sits desolate. La Poncia stands near the wall. Bernarda composes herself, bangs her stick down and speaks) I shall have to take a firm grip! Remember, Bernarda, itís your duty!

 

LA PONCIA: Can I say something?

 

BERNARDA: Speak. Iím sorry you had to hear that. Itís not good to have an outsider mixed up in family matters.

 

LA PONCIA: What Iíve seen, Iíve seen.

 

BERNARDA: Angustias must get married at once.

 

LA PONCIA: You must get her away from here.

 

BERNARDA: Not her. Him!

 

LA PONCIA: Yes, you must get him away from here! A good thought.

 

BERNARDA: I donít think. There are things you canít and shouldnít think about. I command.

 

LA PONCIA: And you think heíll be prepared to go?

 

BERNARDA: (Rising) Whatís going on in that head of yours?

 

LA PONCIA: Of course heíll marry Angustias!

 

BERNARDA: Say it. I know you well enough to spot when youíre ready to stab with your knife.

 

LA PONCIA: Iíve never considered a warning to be murder.

 

BERNARDA: Youíre going to warn me of something?

 

LA PONCIA: Iím not accusing you of anything, Bernarda. Iím merely saying: open your eyes and see.

 

BERNARDA: And what is there to see?

 

LA PONCIA: Youíve always been sharp. You can see the evil in people a hundred miles off. Iíve often thought you can read othersí minds. But itís different with your daughters. Now youíre blind.

 

BERNARDA: You mean Martirio?

 

LA PONCIA: Indeed, MartirioÖ (Expressing curiosity) Why did she hide the photo?

 

BERNARDA: (Protective of her daughter) After all she says it was just a joke. What else could it be?

 

LA PONCIA: (Sarcastically) You believe that?

 

BERNARDA: (Energetically) No I donít. Youíre right!

 

LA PONCIA: Fair enough, itís your family. But if it was the neighbour across the street, what then?

BERNARDA: Now youíre beginning to twist the knife.

 

LA PONCIA: (With sustained cruelty) No Bernarda; something serious is in the wind here. I donít wish to blame you, but youíve not allowed your daughters their freedom. Martirio is made to fall in love readily, whatever you may say. Why didnít you let her marry Enrique Humanes? Why on the very day he was going to come to her window did you send him a message not to come?

 

BERNARDA: (Forcefully) Iíd do it a thousand times over! My blood will not mix with that of the Humanes family as long as I live! His father was a farmhand.

 

LA PONCIA: And this is what your pride has brought you to!

 

BERNARDA: Iím proud because Iíve a right to be. And you havenít, since you know very well what you come from.

 

LA PONCIA: (With hatred) Donít remind me! Iím old now, and Iíve always been grateful for your protection.

BERNARDA: (Imperiously) It doesnít seem like it!

 

LA PONCIA: (Her hatred smoothly concealed) Martirio will forget about him.

 

BERNARDA: And if she doesnít the worse for her. I donít think there is Ďsomething seriousí going on here. Nothingís going on here. Itís only what youíd like to be happening! And if anything does be sure it wonít escape these walls.

 

LA PONCIA: I donít know about that! There are those in the village who can also read hidden thoughts from afar.

BERNARDA: How youíd love to see me and my daughters on the road to the nearest brothel!

 

LA PONCIA: No one knows where anyone will end up.

BERNARDA: I know what my end will be! I and my daughters! The brothel was fitting for a certain dead womanÖ

 

LA PONCIA: (Fiercely) Bernarda! Respect my motherís memory!

 

BERNARDA: Then donít persecute me with your evil thoughts!

 

(Pause)

 

LA PONCIA: Itís better if I have nothing to do with it.

BERNARDA: Thatís what you should do. Work and keep silent about things. Thatís the duty of anyone whoís paid to work.

 

LA PONCIA: But I canít. Do you think Martirio is better suited to marry Pepe thanÖsay Adela?

BERNARDA: I donít see why.

 

LA PONCIA: (Pointedly) Adela. She was made to be a Romanoís fiancť!

BERNARDA: Things are never as weíd wish them.

 

LA PONCIA: But itís hard to go against oneís true inclinations. It seems wrong to me that Pepe is with Angustias, and it seems wrong to others too, and even to Nature herself. Who knows whether theyíll pay for it somehow!

 

BERNARDA: Here we go againÖYou slip things in to give me bad dreams. And I donít want to listen to you, because if I did understand all you were saying Iíd be tempted to scratch your eyes out.

 

LA PONCIA: It wonít come to it!

BERNARDA: Fortunately my daughters respect me, and have never gone against my wishes!

 

LA PONCIA: Thatís so! But as soon as you let them free theyíll be climbing the roof.

BERNARDA: Iíll hurl stones to bring them down again!

 

LA PONCIA: Youíve always been the pluckiest!

BERNARDA: I was always a fiery one!

 

LA PONCIA: But itís strange how things turn out! At her age: you should see Angustiasí enthusiasm for this fiancť of hers! And he seems taken with her too! My son told me that yesterday when he went past with the oxen at four thirty in the morning, they were still talking.

 

BERNARDA: At four thirty!

 

ANGUSTIAS: (Entering) Thatís a lie!

 

LA PONCIA: Thatís what they told me.

BERNARDA: (To Angustias) Well?

 

ANGUSTIAS: Pepe has been leaving at one, for more than a week. God strike me dead if Iím lying.

MARTIRIO: (Entering) I heard him leaving at four as well.

 

BERNARDA: But did you see him with your own eyes?

 

MARTIRIO: I didnít want to look out. Donít you talk to him from the window in the alleyway?

ANGUSTIAS: No, I talk to him from my bedroom window.

 

(Adela appears in the doorway)

 

MARTIRIO: ThenÖ

BERNARDA: What has been going on here?

 

LA PONCIA: Beware what you might find! Anyway, itís clear that Pepe was at one of the windows at four in the morning.

 

BERNARDA: You know that for certain?

 

LA PONCIA: Nothingís certain in this life.

ADELA: Mother, donít listen to her: she wants to destroy us all.

 

BERNARDA: Iíll find out for myself! If the people in this village want to make false accusations theyíll find me hard as rock. Weíll not speak of this any more. Sometimes people will throw mud at others to destroy them.

 

MARTIRIO: Iíve no wish to tell lies.

LA PONCIA: There must be something in it.

BERNARDA: Thereís nothing in it. I was born with my eyes open. And theyíll stay open till the day I die.

 

ANGUSTIAS: I have a right to know whatís going on.

 

BERNARDA: Your only right is that of obedience. Nobody tells me what to do. (To La Poncia) And you: keep to your own affairs. No one will take a step here without my knowing!

 

SERVANT: (Entering) Thereís a big crowd at the top of the street and all the neighbours are at their doors!

 

BERNARDA: (To La Poncia) Run, and see whatís happening! (The women start to run off) Where are you going? I always knew you were the sort of women who canít wait to display themselves at windows, and break your mourning vow. All of you, to the courtyard!

 

(They leave as does Bernarda. Distant murmurs are heard. Martirio and Adela enter and stand listening, not daring to take another step towards the exit.)

 

MARTIRIO: Be grateful I kept my tongue in check.

ADELA: I could have spoken too.

 

MARTIRIO: And what would you have said? To wish is not to do!

ADELA: The one who does is the one who can, and who gets there first. You wished but you couldnít have him.

 

MARTIRIO: You wonít have him much longer.

ADELA: Iíll have him all to myself!

 

MARTIRIO: Iíll snatch him from your arms!

ADELA: (Pleading) Martirio, let us alone!

 

MARTIRIO: Never!

 

ADELA: He wants me to live with him!

 

MARTIRIO: I saw him embrace you!

 

ADELA: I didnít want him to. Itís as if I was dragged along by a rope.

 

MARTIRIO: Iíll see you dead first!

 

(Magdalena and Angustias appear. The noise outside increases.)

LA PONCIA: (Entering with Bernarda) Bernarda!

 

BERNARDA: Whatís going on?

LA PONCIA: Libradaís daughter, the unmarried one, has had a daughter and no one knows who the father is.

 

ADELA: A child?

LA PONCIA: And to hide her shame she killed it, and buried it under some rocks; but the dogs, with more heart than many a human creature, dug it up and, as if guided by Godís hand, left it on her doorstep. Now people want to kill her. Theyíre dragging her down the street, and there are men running along the paths, and out of the olive-groves, shouting loud enough to make the earth tremble.

 

BERNARDA: Thatís right, let them bring olive branches and pick-handles, and let them kill her.

ADELA: No, no, not kill her!

 

MARTIRIO: Yes, and let us go see.

BERNARDA: And may she who tramples on her honour pay the price.

 

(A womanís cry and a great uproar are heard outside.)

ADELA: Let them only release her! Donít go outside!

 

MARTIRIO: (Gazing at Adela) May she pay what she owes!

BERNARDA: (In the archway) Finish her off before the police come! A burning coal in the place of her sin!

 

ADELA: (Clutching her belly) No! No!

BERNARDA: Kill her! Kill her!

Curtain


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